Region: The Rim
Connections: Phoenix (10 parsecs)
Once upon a time, Hope was a bright-eyed and burgeoning young colony: the latest in a series of colonisation missions known as the Interstellar Renaissance. One day, however, all of that changed. The Tau Ultimatum was broadcast, and overnight Hope’s backers abandoned it. Even though it remanied faithful to the Foundation, the colony fell into disarray - and by the time the War of Pacification ended, one of the Firmament most hopeful young colonies had become a bitter and disillusioned shadow of its former self.
These days, most would avoid Hope altogether if it wasn’t an unavoidable pit stop for those travelling into the Rim; the system has a reputation as a stronghold for pirates and the Anti-Foundation Front. Even those who do visit will usually keep to the Xerxes Refuelling Station rather than actually touching down on the system’s homeworld, Xanadu.
Points of Interest
Xanadu is the primary colony of the system. It’s an arid desert world with a sparse population; a pair of impact craters known as the “Central Basins” are home to most of the world’s population, as they are significantly more livable than most of the world. Xanadu City is the planet’s capitol, major spaceport, and only true metropolis. Everything else exists to support Xanadu City and connect the planet to space.
Outside of the Central Basins, the most inhabited areas are Mesa Roja and the Serenity Highlands. Mesa Roja is an isolated desert plateau deep in nomad territory, home to the geothermal plants that provide much of the Basins’ power and connected to them by a long magtrain link. The Serenity Highlands are a distant region near the planet’s northern pole, home to a lawless people with little respect for the planetary government. Black Hills, the largest settlement of the highlands, has a reputation as a secondary “pirate spaceport” for Xanadu.
Xerxes Refuelling Station is a deep space station owned and operated by Xerxes Corporation. The largest station of its kind in Hope, it is a corporate and Foundation-friendly presence in an otherwise hostile system. The administrators of the XRS maintain a delicate balance with Xanadu and Kaiping, who they need for fuel and food - but who wouldn’t work with Xerxes if they didn’t need the money. The XRS is where you can find the best tech and the best ships in the system, but everything comes at a premium - whatever you want will cost you far more than the same goods would back in the Incorporated Territories, where they’re nothing special.
The Hope Belt is the system’s asteroid belt, some rocks as small as golf balls and others the size of moons in their own right - all separated by hundreds of thousands of kilometers of empty space. Far from being desolate, however, it is home to a number of independent colonies and with mining concerns both local and megacorporate. It’s common practice to take old asteroids that have been mined out and abandoned, and to turn them into “speakeasies” where rogue traders, pirates, and the AFF alike rub shoulders daily.
The biggest presence in the Hope Belt is the Foundry; once a massive mining concern operated by Mjolnir Dynamics, its corporate overseers were overthrown by the workers to found the Belt’s largest asteroid colony. Since then, the Foundry has become the hub of the Belt’s complex politics - with factions constantly shifting between independence, a united Belt, or allegiance to various political powers.
Kaiping is one of the twin moons of the system’s gias giant, Levant. The Kaiping Outpost is more like a moonbase than a proper colony, and its inhabitants spend weeks at a time on the planet below, using aerostatic rigs that collect gases from Levant’s surfaces for processing into starship fuel. The culture of Kaiping is somewhere between a village and a ship’s crew; an austere life, but a happy one. It’s not permitted for outsiders to bring guns or other military equipment into the colony by order of Chief Engineer Qadan, Kaiping’s leader.
Kingfisher is the larger of Levant’s two moons, almost a planetoid in its own right. It’s covered by layers of thick ice, but subsurface oceans of liquid water are home to alien microbes and the Kingfisher Outpost, a “bubble settlement” deep below the surface. Kingfisher is sponsored by and heavily connected to Kaiping, and is mostly a scientific outpost performing research into the possibility that the moon may one day support a full-fledged colony.
Calypso is a radioactive, high-gravity world covered in a constant radioactive drizzle that never ceases. Uninhabited by humans besides a few orbital research stations, it is home to alien flora and fauna that is uniquely adapted to radiation. Very little research has been done into the strange organisms that inhabit Calypso, but the most abundant lifeform is a strange fungus that seems to reanimate dead wildlife to spread its spores. Some fringe scientists have claimed that Calypso is home to an alien hivemind, but no conclusive evidence for this exists.
Vesper is the closest planet to Hope’s star, but is surprisingly cool. It is covered with oceans of ammonia, and its atmosphere is corrosive. Equipment and metal degrades quickly, and the planet is largely uninhabitable. Due to its inhospitable nature, it is largely untouched by humankind - though pirate vessels sometimes lay low for brief periods in the billowing clouds of corrosive gases, which are completely impenetrable to scanning and sensors.